Suffering from low moods is far more common than most people think but there's no need to be embarrassed or ashamed. Help is available, and the first step to turning things around is to consult your healthcare professional.
- Feeling sad, dejected or hopeless, or experiencing changes in mood, personality or behaviour. These symptoms last for at least two weeks, often without obvious cause
- Irritability, shortness of temper, poor concentration and moodiness
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Poor appetite, sometimes with weight loss
- Sufferer may become isolated and withdrawn, avoiding social contact, even with loved ones. Absenteeism from work or school may also occur
- Insomnia, or conversely, sleeping for long periods of time
- Anxiety or stress
- Risky behaviour, for example increased consumption of drugs or alcohol, participating in dangerous activities
- Thought processes, conversation and movement may become slow and plodding
- In bipolar disorder (formerly referred to as manic low mood), the sufferer may experience both extreme highs and extreme lows
- In many cases, low mood is a response to Stress or difficult circumstances in the sufferer's life, for example grief, relationship difficulties, or poor working conditions
- Other causes may include chemical imbalances, hormonal problems (e.g. premenstrual syndrome or thyroid underactivity), underlying disease states, and adverse reactions to prescribed medicines
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol
- There is a strong correlation between Anxiety and low mood, and inherited factors may also play a role
Nutritional & Herbal Support
- St John's Wort has been clinically proven to relieve mild to moderate low mood, as well as anxiety and stress.
- Valerian is an effective but gentle sedative with properties that may provide symptomatic relief of anxiety.
- Valerian is sometimes combined with other herbal sedatives such as skullcap and hops, and the minerals potassium phosphate, calcium phosphate and magnesium phosphate to relieve insomnia, anxiety, nervous tension and stress
- Vitex agnus-castus is a herb that has traditionally been used to balance female hormones for regular experiences of Anxiety, low mood or other mood problems as a symptom of premenstrual syndrome
- Vitex is sometimes combined with other herbs and nutrients that provide PMT support. Important ingredients to look for include magnesium and other minerals and vitamins
Diet & Lifestyle advice
- If you are concerned for your own safety or that of someone else, seek the advice of your doctor urgently, or phone Lifeline on 0800 543 354
- Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of low mood; there are many forms of treatment and support available
- Regular exercise and activity are vital for mental health, and can help to improve Stress levels, low mood, low moods and Anxiety. Even a brisk 30-minute walk has health benefits, but other options include swimming, yoga and going to the gym. Exercising with a friend offers a valuable opportunity to combine socialising with physical activity; talking to someone you trust can help you to let off steam and explore solutions to your problems
- Learn and practice meditation or relaxation techniques in order to improve your ability to cope with Stress
- Don't smoke or drink alcohol - these can exacerbate the problem, even if they may make you feel better in the short-term
- Maintain social contact with friends, family and colleagues
- Develop a routine or structure to your day that includes some exercise, some social interaction, and at least one activity that brings you some form of pleasure
- Avoid the use of stimulants such as coffee, tea, chocolate and other caffeine-containing substances - besides stimulating your adrenal glands to produce more Stress hormones, these substances further deplete your body's nutrient levels
- Your requirements for key nutrients increase when you're under pressure, so avoid junk foods and refined sugars and carbohydrates, and don't skip meals. Instead, eat plenty of whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and high quality proteins. Oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are an excellent choice because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are needed for healthy brain function. Inadequate consumption of omega-3s may contribute to mood imbalances
If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.